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Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese blesses Aldeburgh lifeboats during RNLI 200th anniversary service





A Suffolk bishop has taken a special service on the coast to mark the start of the 200th anniversary celebrations for a charity saving lives at sea.

The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, was a special guest at a service to mark the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) bicentenary.

The RNLI invited clergy and supporters to the lifeboat station in Aldeburgh where the charity has run the voluntary emergency service since 1852 – although lifeboat history can be traced back to 1826.

The service on Aldeburgh beach where Bishop Martin Seeley blessed the all-weather lifeboat Freddie Cooper. Pictures: Keith Mindham
The service on Aldeburgh beach where Bishop Martin Seeley blessed the all-weather lifeboat Freddie Cooper. Pictures: Keith Mindham

Bishop Martin said afterwards: ‘‘The RNLI volunteers in Aldeburgh are stalwarts of our community.

“They are on call 24/7 and will drop everything to launch a lifeboat and go and help a stranger in distress at sea.

‘‘They are humble people, seeking no recognition for what can be a very difficult operation in a challenging environment, going out when everyone else wants to stay at home.

Bishop Martin Seeley blessing the Aldeburgh all-weather lifeboat Freddie Cooper. Pictures: Keith Mindham
Bishop Martin Seeley blessing the Aldeburgh all-weather lifeboat Freddie Cooper. Pictures: Keith Mindham

‘‘I was fascinated to learn all about such a renowned and respected charity which has now operated for 200 years with the mission of saving every one in trouble at sea.

‘‘To meet those volunteers, to hear their stories and to learn all about their training was a most rewarding experience for me. We should feel privileged to have such a tremendous organisation in the heart of our community.’’

Bishop Seeley blessed the town’s two lifeboats, the sea, and the volunteer crew who give up their time to ensure that Aldeburgh can fulfil the vision of the charity’s founder Sir William Hillary.

The anniversary celebrations in Aldeburgh will recognise the selflessness of RNLI crew past and present who have brought relief to many in their hour of need - and to inspire people to volunteer so that the RNLI can continue to save lives at sea.

Bishop Martin Seeley, with from left, station mechanic James Cable station mechanic, deputy coxswain Adrian Burns and second coxswain Karl Barber after the blessing of the all-weather lifeboat Freddie Cooper. Pictures: Keith Mindham
Bishop Martin Seeley, with from left, station mechanic James Cable station mechanic, deputy coxswain Adrian Burns and second coxswain Karl Barber after the blessing of the all-weather lifeboat Freddie Cooper. Pictures: Keith Mindham
Bishop Martin Seeley with the volunteer crew of the station after the blessing. Pictures: Keith Mindham
Bishop Martin Seeley with the volunteer crew of the station after the blessing. Pictures: Keith Mindham

Revd Mary Brown, curate at Aldeburgh Parish Church, said: ‘‘The crew has been an integral part of the community.

“There is a long-standing relationship between the church and the station, which has been honoured over the centuries with special services.

“With this service we hope to relaunch an annual celebration and blessing of the work of the RNLI volunteers who are so valued in this community.’’